How I Got the Shot – Poppies under the Blazing Arizona Sun

Author: Ambika Balasubramaniyan

Settings:

  • Camera: Canon 5DMIII
  • Lens: Canon EF 16-35mm f2.8 II USM
  • Settings: Av (Aperture Priority)1/40 sec, f22, ISO 100, 16mm
  • Filter: None

Location: Bartlett Lake, Arizona

  • This location in Arizona typically explodes with poppies mid-late March if the rain and temperature conditions are conducive to good bloom. In March 2017, the steady moisture over winter delivered a great bloom year for the poppies. In other years, when the rain is inconsistent over winter – there may be very few poppies. Another note, you also find some white & orange poppies here in addition to the yellowish-orange kind!
  • Location guide: Wild in Arizona™: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, & How(Expanded 2nd Edition) by Paul Gill & Colleen Miniuk-Sperry Location #25 Page 102

Vision: An above average heat made for a blazing hot March and I wanted to capture the contrast of the delicate poppies under the blazing Arizona sun – a juxtaposition of hot and cool. I wanted to feature the sun as an integral part of the image in addition to using light the highlight the delicate poppy petals.

Image Capture: I wanted to showcase the sun along with poppies feature the mid-morning sun – higher up in the sky rather than the typical sunrise – on the horizon treatment. I wanted the image to convey “hot” and showcase the sun loving poppies reaching up to soak up the rays. I also included a bit of the surrounding hills to set context. The image capture was set up was with the Canon 16 – 35 mm lens for the wide angle treatment, shooting upwards from below the clump of poppies on a roadside berm to emphasize the poppies reaching up towards the sun. Aperture was set to f22 to include the sun as a “sunburst” in the composition. The small aperture at f22 on the Canon 16-35mm f2.8 II USM wide angle lens generates a pleasing starburst.  I also intentionally under exposed the image to ensure a sharp “sunstar” with a workable image that was not over exposed. Remember to remove ALL filters in front of your lens to minimize any lens flare. You may still get some lens flare from the internal elements of the lens but you can do your part in minimizing them!

If you are interested in learning more about sun bursts & different lens that make good ones: https://www.outdoorphotographyguide.com/article/how-to-create-a-starburst-effect/.

Post Processing: Images were post processed in Lightroom CC minimally – some cropping, opening up of the shadows, pop of clarity & saturation in Lightroom.  Some of the lens flare artifacts were also cloned out to clean up the sun.

The key post processing move for this image is the opening up of the shadows that show cases the color of the poppies against the blue sky!

Ambika is a Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops

Red on the Rim

Author: Greg McKelvey

The Mogollon Rim, stretching from near Flagstaff to New Mexico, is more than a unique topographic and geologic feature.  It’s forests are home to numerous, albeit hidden Mountain Maple and small groves of Aspen trees.   Not the grand vistas surrounding the San Francisco Peaks and nothing like the New England hardwood forests, the Rim Country does have fall displays to fill the portfolio of any professional photographer, publication amateur enthusiast.  The question is where are they?

Take a Sunday fall drive on the USFS 300 road, and you will likely pass yellow flames of aspen, some even with ponds to capture the reflections.  The occasional sighting of small red maple trees is evidence that there is more. Some experienced folks know of a few isolated red and orange maple groves, many just below the Rim.  A few experienced photographers hike Horton and See Canyons for wonderful fall displays.  The more one explores, the more one finds.  Makes sense, yet not all that easy for the visitors.

Google Earth offers a shortcut that may well enhance the probability of finding exceptional fall shots!

Google Earth is a free program that uses the most up to date satellite imagery available.  Open the program and find your house and likely you will see your car in the driveway.  As they add new imagery, they do not discard the old!    With satellite data back as far 1992, their historical record of images may well capture a place at that unique time.  Such is the case in the hunt for fall colors in parts of the Mogollon Rim.

Note the difference in the image taken in June 2014 over the intersection of the Rim Road 300 and USFS 84 and the images captured in October, 2012.  See the red?

Perhaps not evident until zooming closer (see below).  The Mable and Aspen show on USFS 84 are known to many, often photographed and worth a revisit each year.   What was not evident is the extent of these colorful trees.  I have visited this location for more than 10 years , yet until I saw the  October 2012 Google Earth capture, I did not know how far I could find special color.  Mind you these are not the grand vista, yet are wonderful walks in the forest where my camera never stops clicking.

Red on the Rim 4

Note individual red trees.

To find the stack of images that Google Earth stores:

  • Open Google Earth
  • Navigate to a National Forest near your
  • Zoom in a bit to see roads and familiar places
  • Click on the date in the lower left hand side of the display next to Tour Guide a clock and find the 1992 button (this would be the oldest image on file).
  • Click and it opens a time slider at the upper left.
  • Slide to the right looking at the dates. Earlier images are in Black and White while many are taken in summer.
  • Surf and slide until you find the time of year you plan to do your work.

In the case of USFS 84 maple / aspen grove, the image from September 2010 and October 2010 shows nothing, but October 2012, wow the forest lights up.   From that base, we have found and visited locations,  some with splendid foregrounds and colorful skies were we would not have known to look.  I want to explore a new place each year, and I have a robust list of fall color locations worth checking.

Hey this might work in other places for other subjects.   Who knows?  I think I see carpets of wild flowers on one May image so far from a road that it not well photographed??

Greg McKelvey is a participant at Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.

Portraits in Nature with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops in Eagar, AZ

Author: Ivan Martinez

DSC_8449_

Early in August, I had the fortune to escape the Phoenix heat and go to the town of Eagar in Northern Arizona to help in a 4 day workshop conducted by nature photographer Bruce Taubert.  Living in Arizona, gives me the luxury of being able to find cooler areas that are just a half day driving from where I live .  The town of Eagar is a 4 hours drive from Phoenix and 40 degrees cooler in the summer.  The area is popular for wild life and outdoor activities. We were there to photograph hummingbirds.  The workshop was conducted at the Sipe Wild Life Area which  is at the foot of Escudilla Mountain.  Although it is few hundred miles from Phoenix, it seems you are in a completely different world.  The air was cool and crisp. We had few showers and lost of overcast days. It was a nice time to be away  from the sweltering summer heat of Phoenix.  The workshop participants had a good time and went home with hundreds of great images. Bruce did an outstanding job in setting up the photography stations and worked very closely which each one of the participants.  Rick Sprain and I assisted Bruce during the workshop. Being a Volunteer Trip Leader with Arizona Highways Photo Workshops have been a wonderful experience and it has granted me the opportunity to learn new photography techniques and visit amazing places in Arizona and the USA.  Here are few images fro the the workshop.

Ivan Martinez is a commercial photographer and a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.